Learning Privacy Expectations by Crowdsourcing Contextual Informational Norms

by Yan Shvartzshnaider, Schrasing Tong, Thomas Wies, Paula Kift, Helen Nissenbaum, Lakshminarayanan Subramanian, Prateek Mittal

This paper will appear in the proceedings of the Fourth AAAI Conference on Human Computation and Crowdsourcing (HCOMP 2016).

Designing programmable privacy logic frameworks that correspond to social, ethical, and legal norms has been a fundamentally hard problem. Contextual integrity (CI) (Nissenbaum, 2010) offers a model for conceptualizing privacy that is able to bridge technical design with ethical, legal, and policy approaches. While CI is capable of capturing the various components of contextual privacy in theory, it is challenging to discover and formally express these norms in operational terms. In the following, we propose a crowdsourcing method for the automated discovery of contextual norms. To evaluate the effectiveness and scalability of our approach, we conducted an extensive survey on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (AMT) with more than 450 participants and 1400 questions. The paper has three main takeaways: First, we demonstrate the ability to generate survey questions corresponding to privacy norms within any context. Second, we show that crowdsourcing enables the discovery of norms from these questions with strong majoritarian consensus among users. Finally, we demonstrate how the norms thus discovered can be encoded into a formal logic to automatically verify their consistency.

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